Christmas Toy Hazard

[twitter]Fear-based parenting is terrible. This morning a study has dropped that says toys have never been more dangerous for kids.

In an era when fewer kids are outside playing and running around, more kids are getting hurt. Ugh.

Christmas toy season is here and with it comes a higher risk of injury to children, unless parents learn how to make this season safer. Note the key line – “parents need to make them safer.”

In a new study, researchers found millions of children were being sent to the emergency room every year because of a toy-related accident. The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital published their findings in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

An estimated 3.3 million children were sent to the emergency room because of a toy injury between 1990 and 2011. These kids are young, too; more than half of the injuries happened to children younger than 5. Throughout the years, toy-related injuries rose by 40 percent, and by 2011, a child was being treated every three minutes in the emergency room for getting injured during playtime.

“A child’s job is play, and toys are the tools,” said the study’s lead author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in a press release. He said they don’t want children and their parents to be afraid of toys, but to instead encourage a safer playtime. “We want children to explore, challenge themselves, and develop while using those tools safely.”

So the headline will say KIDS ARE GETTING HURT BY TOYS! But, as with most injuries from non-threatening items, it’s people not using the toys properly.

Each age group is faced with different toy hazards. The ones younger than 3 are, of course, at a particular risk for choking on small toys and parts. In fact, there were more than 109,000 cases of children younger than 5 swallowing or inhaling toys and parts, at a rate of 14 cases each day.

As children get older, injuries involving foot-powered scooters, wagons, tricycles, and any other riding toys become a danger. Five- to 17-year-olds were sent to the ER with injuries from riding toys, and their injuries were three times more likely to be a broken bone or dislocation. When the foot-powered scooters first came onto the market in 2000, they became increasingly more popular over the years, and have accounted for 580,037 injuries since then, which means one kid was getting hurt enough to go to the ER every 11 minutes.

“The frequency and increasing rate of injuries to children associated with toys, especially those associated with foot-powered scooters, is concerning,” Smith said. “This underscores the need for increased efforts to prevent these injuries to children. Important opportunities exist for improvements in toy safety standards, product design, recall effectiveness, and consumer education.”

6 Tips To Keep Kids Safe:

  1. Follow age restrictions and other manufacturer guidelines for all toys.
  2. Examine toys for small parts that could be choking hazards for young children.
  3. Use riding toys on dry, flat surfaces away from vehicle traffic.
  4. Closely supervise any child who is younger than 8 years of age on a riding toy.
  5. Wear helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads on scooters and other riding toys with wheels.
  6. Check Recalls.gov to see if toys that you own or may buy have been recalled.

It’s all about common sense, people. Be safe.

Image via Glenn Fleishman on Flickr

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